A few weeks ago, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, known as MoCADA, debuted a new television series. I reviewed the debut of MoCADA TV but Hyperallergic’s editor and I continually had a back-and-forth about the usefulness of TV as a medium, and the fact that this pioneering move on part of the museum could open a lot of new discussions.
With all of these dialogues lingering, I caught up with Kalia Brooks, director of exhibitions at MoCADA, to get a better idea of the series’ aims.
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Kate Wadkins: So who is MoCADA TV’s intended audience?
Kalia Brooks: The intended audience is of course a Brooklyn-based audience that has access to BCAT, the television network hosting MoCADA TV. The episodes will also be available online through the network which opens them up to a much wider audience both locally and globally.
Kate Wadkins: Why outreach through television?
KB: Television is a very democratic medium in that most people have or have access to one. BCAT is also community based so it provides broadcasting opportunities and programming access to the public on a grassroots level. The online streaming is an additional platform to expand MoCADA’s audience. The museum sees itself as a network dispersing the arts and culture of the African diaspora. It seems fitting that we experiment with programming in other media networks like television, which is the strongest distributor of visual culture.
KW: What are some of your intended goals with this media?
KB: Our goals are to expand the breadth of our programming, introduce the museum to new audiences, and promote the arts, artists, cultural organizations and businesses of the African diaspora.
KW: What added dimensions does MoCADA TV contribute to MoCADA as a space?
KB: It allows us to use television as an additional programming platform where we can reach audiences beyond our physical space so that people have access to the museum from their homes. People who have physical limitations or are separated by critical distance can now reach us and we can reach them through this media outlet.
KW: What do you think differs between MoCADA TV and other educational programs like Art21, aside from your direct focus on the African diaspora?
KB: MoCADA TV intends to give a wider perspective on the social and cultural landscape that shapes the African diaspora. In addition to arts and culture we also feature businesses as a means of highlighting the network of people and places that make up the variety of the African diasporan community.
KW: It’s rare to see the art world enter the realm of TV, one of the only other examples is Work of Art, Bravo’s reality TV program. Do you think this (or other attempts like it) has made art more friendly to viewers?
KB: It definitely makes it more accessible to a wider audience by entering into the realm of popular culture. You have to keep in mind that MoCADA TV is a documentary style program so its primary goal is education, which distinguishes it from reality TV shows like Work of Art.
KW: By using television as a medium, you then insert MoCADA into a mainstream or commercial cultural consciousness. What do you think about that? Do you think this will change your mission at all, or is it really about pulling the dialogue from the margins to the center?
KB: The museum is using television as a means of expanding the reach of our mission. We consider television to be an additional venue for our programming in an attempt to bring other voices into the dialogue so that the discourse can expand — margins and centers are irrelevant.
KW: Who do you consider your ideal guests on the show?
KB: We will feature outstanding artists and entrepreneurs of the African diaspora who are innovators in their field.
KW: Do you hope to expand the program in general?
KB: We always welcome the possibility for expansion.
KW: What have the reactions to MoCADA TV been like so far?
KB: The first episode has been available on our website and has received a positive response. This will be our first launch on a network with larger distribution so we are looking forward to hearing feedback from our audience and excited to be able to bring this new initiative to a wider public.
KW: What is the future of MoCADA TV?
KB: The future for MoCADA TV is limitless. The museum has partnered with Media MVMT to produce this first season. This partnership has generated a lot of resources that will allow us to be forward thinking in how we develop the program in the future.
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